Freeburn Pool, Tomatin House
So how do we solve this awful conundrum? Certainly I've got no concrete answers supported by evidence, so let's go back to basics. The first step is to separate the resident fish in the foreground from all the others: they're different, deep and are looking the wrong way, so they need a unique solution. You cannot present a conventional oblique fly to them and you don't have the room or the flow to riffle a hitched fly, so do something completely different (courtesy of the Silverleapers Newfoundland School of Fishing Tricks). Before you fish the main body of the pool, go downstream to the third rock (with a small one sat on top). Put on a long leader and something light like a Sunray Shadow with a small double or a floating Bomber. Cast gently short of the fish and let the flow take the fly beyond them. Then bring it back - strip, pause, wiggle, pause, strip and pause again. Allow it to drift back and repeat; and repeat. Don't give up too soon: dogged persistence is the Newfie secret (and it works). Prevent the onset of boredom by inserting some variations like loops and left mends. Don't worry about the fish: they're almost bomb-proof (Falkus has a neat paragraph on the subect). Just stay awake and alert, because one might just drift gently upwards and do an idle head and tail take. If you don't believe me, have a look at this clip from Newfoundland. You didn't think salmon did that? Nor did I, so give it a shot.
After you've caught all the resident monsters with this revolutionary new approach, go back to the main body of the pool and apply the MCX formula and depth analysis. The usual way of fishing this pool is first from directly upstream by wading along a shingle bar to a large rock just out of the shot to the right. I don't like doing this if there is a risk of a rise, because there's only one way out, back the way you came, into the current. Things can happen very fast on spate rivers like the Findhorn: I've experienced a 12" lift in under 3 minutes and so observe a golden rule of never wading without a downstream exit.
Your focus is now on the mid-blue 3-5' zone, where there is a succession of lies down the central flow line. You're looking at a middle height (2), medium flow (2), and clearing water (2) at around 13C (2). Taking off 1 for the bright day leads you to a score around 7, which suggests a smaller fly - #10 - and no more than an intermediate tip at most. The fishing from the rocky bank is challenging. There is the risk of falling into very deep water; you have to move from one boulder to the next; and you can't cast a wide angle. To balance those factors the prevailing breeze comes up the pool, which allows you to use single Spey, Snap-T or Jump Roll casts. Nor do you have to cast far: do not cast into the shallow slow moving water as this will hold your fly back, create a big bow in the line and ruin your presentation in the critical zone, which is a classic novice mistake. Avoid it and you more than double your chances.
Frodle Dub, Bolton Castle
Once you get to 2 the flow rate reduces to slow and the water is clearer and shallower (=8). This means re-rigging for the third time. At this level it will probably require a short slow sink or intermediate tip. The back-eddy has petered out. You need a long cast to cover the quiet lies on the far side, but must avoid treading on fish running up the light blue strip.
|Frodle Dub Tail 31/8/2012|
15lbs on Ally Shrimp #12
You will have noted that a couple of times I raised the issue of common novice mistakes. In my next post I'll expand on them; why they dramatically reduce the chances of connecting with a fish; and how to avoid falling into their traps.